Nestor Siré, Steffen Köhn
Nestor Siré, Steffen Köhn

19 April–12 May 2023
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

Part of Tactics & Practice #14: Scale

In 1981, Canadian author and cyberpunk novelist William Gibson published Johnny Mnemonic, a short story in which Johnny, the main character, is a data trafficker who has undergone cybernetic surgery to have a data storage system implanted in his brain. The system allows him to serve as secure storage for digital data too sensitive to transfer across the net; but it becomes a problem when data stolen from the Yakuza are uploaded to his brain.

Shot in 2021 – the year in which the plot of the story takes place – and during a pandemic (another Gibson’s prediction), Memoria implants this narrative on contemporary Cuba’s reality, and contrasts the imaginary of the Internet in 1980s Cyberpunk literature with the contemporary Cuban experience of the Internet as a particular conglomerate of differing horizons of technical and social possibility. The work examines both sci-fi, as well as real-world alternatives to the mainstream capitalist consumerist version of the net that we are left with today, envisioning more decentralized, (net-)neutral, non-commercial iterations of the web.

As a collaboration between a media artist, an anthropologist, and a Sci-Fi writer, Memoria is based on long term ethnographic fieldwork on Cuban alternative data distribution networks. With online access heavily restricted by the government, but also the US trade embargo, Cuban citizens have found a way to distribute all kinds of web content in the form of the Paquete Semanal (The Weekly Package), a one-terabyte collection of digital material compiled by a network of people with various forms of privileged internet access and circulated nationwide on USB sticks and external hard drives via an elaborate human infrastructure of deliverymen, so-called Paqueteros who, like Mnemonic, physically bring the content to the remotest corners of the island. The most recent evolution in a 40 years long tradition of piracy – illegal yet not explicitly contrasted by the state – the Paquete Semanal forms a sort of offline version of the Internet and contains any kind of entertainment and cultural data. 

Memoria is an immersive four-channel expanded cinema installation with specifically developed software and hardware components. Its narrative is presented on 4 synchronized screens that merge live-action footage with found footage from videos that have circulated in Cuba through the Paquete. To represent its protagonist’s loss of memory, the work will slowly “die” during the course of the exhibition, thanks to a custom system that corrupts both the audiovisual material as well as the devices on which the project files are stored.


Nestor Siré, Steffen Köhn
Localising the Internet: Cuban Alternative Data Distribution Networks and the Social Infrastructures that Sustain Them
20 April 2023 at 6 PM
osmo/za, Slovenska 54, Ljubljana


Nestor Siré, Steffen Köhn
Digital Ethnography (for artists)
19 April 2023, 2 PM–5 PM
ALUO, Tobačna 5, Ljubljana


Nestor Siré, Steffen Köhn
Fragile Connections
20–28 April 2023
osmo/za, Slovenska 54, Ljubljana


Nestor Siré (1988, Nuevitas) is an artist living and working in Havana, Cuba, who is interested in informal methods of the distribution of information and goods, forms of social creativity in the face of scarcity, and the communities and human infrastructures that shape such practices. His projects are related to alternative networks, informal economies and power structures. Siré pays particular attention to the alternative strategies that have emerged in the digital culture of his native Cuba, which are a response to the country’s disconnection from the global networks that control the Internet today. His works have been exhibited at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Havana), Queens Museum (New York), Rhizome (New York), New Museum (New York), Ars Electronica (Linz), Hong-Gah Museum (Taipei), Musée d’art de Rouyn-Noranda (Canada), Transmediale (Berlin) and The Photographers’ Gallery (London), among others. He has participated in events such as the Havana Biennial (Cuba), the Gwangju Biennial (South Korea), the Curitiba Biennial (Brazil), the Warsaw Biennial (Poland), the International Biennial of Asuncion (Paraguay), the Festival of New Latin American Cinema of Cuba and the International Short Film Festival of Oberhausen (Germany).

Steffen Köhn (1980) is a filmmaker, anthropologist and video artist living and working in Berlin and Aarhus who uses ethnography to understand contemporary sociotechnical landscapes. For his video and installation works, he collaborates with local gig workers, software developers, science fiction writers and fellow artists to explore viable alternatives to current distributions of technological access and arrangements of power. His works have been exhibited at the Academy of the Arts Berlin, Kunsthaus Graz, Vienna Art Week, Hong Gah Museum Taipei, The Photographers’ Gallery and the Biennials of Lulea and Warsaw, while his films have been screened at, among others, the Berlinale, Rotterdam International Film Festival and the BFI Film Festival London.


Authors: Nestor Siré, Steffen Köhn

Production of the exhibition:
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2023

Part of the series:
Tactics & Practice

Supported by:
the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana

Technical assistance: Jurij Podgoršek
Thanks: Projekt Atol Institute

Screenplay: Erick J. Mota
Director of Photography: Nicole Medvecka
Starring: Dayron Villalón Pereda, Cris Gómez Gónzalez, Felix Roman, Benito Guerra, Albany López Suárez, Lynn Cruz, Raudelys Rodriguez Perez
Costumes: Raki Fernandez
CGI & VFX: Alexander Bley
Additional VFX: Helman Bejerano Delgado
Editing: Miguel Coyula, Ginés Olivares
Dialogue Edit: Malte Audick
Sound Design: Lorenz Fischer, Malte Audick
Re-Recording Mix: Lorenz Fischer
Music: Johannes Klingebiel
1st AD: Francesco Innocenti
Software developer and programming: Eduardo Pujol
Hardware design: M0 — COPINCHA
Prostheses: Eric Maza — COPINCHA

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